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Another “Interesting” Maneuver by Ratzinger/Benedict

[1]COMMENT: Amid wide­spread media spec­u­la­tion that the Pope resigned because of the scan­dals sur­round­ing the molesta­tion scan­dals, anoth­er papal appoint­ment war­rants scruti­ny. Ratzinger/Benedict has trans­ferred Mon­signor Ettore Balestrero to Colom­bia.

Balestrero over­saw the Vat­i­can’s deal­ings with Mon­ey­val, the Euro­pean investigative/regulatory body charged with inves­ti­gat­ing mon­ey laun­der­ing. With the Vat­i­can once again the focal point of mon­ey laun­der­ing charges [2], one won­ders about Balestrero’s trans­fer.

Among the past imbroglios in which the Vat­i­can Bank has been impli­cat­ed is an alleged rela­tion­ship between Vat­i­can bank advis­er Rober­to Calvi and Pablo Esco­bar [3], of the Colom­bia-based Medellin car­tel.

Was the IOR laun­der­ing mon­ey for the Colom­bia car­tels? Does that have any­thing to do with the Balestre­to appoint­ment?

Ratzinger/Benedict also made anoth­er con­tro­ver­sial and sig­nif­i­cant move just before resigning–appointing a Ger­man mem­ber of the Knights of Mal­ta and chair­man of the board of Blohm & Voss [4] to head the Vat­i­can Bank.

“Report: Pope Resigned in Wake of Gay Priest Scan­dal” by Doug Stan­glin; USA Today; 2/22/2013. [5]

EXCERPT: Pope Bene­dict XVI is clear­ing the decks of his pon­tif­i­cate, tweak­ing the rules of the con­clave, finess­ing the reli­gious rites used to launch the next papa­cy and mak­ing some eye­brow-rais­ing final appoint­ments before he retires next week. . . .

Pope Bene­dict XVI is clear­ing the decks of his pon­tif­i­cate, tweak­ing the rules of the con­clave, finess­ing the reli­gious rites used to launch the next papa­cy and mak­ing some eye­brow-rais­ing final appoint­ments before he retires next week.

. . . And on Fri­day, the Vat­i­can announced Bene­dict had trans­ferred a top offi­cial in the sec­re­tariat of state, Mon­signor Ettore Balestrero, to Colom­bia — an appoint­ment that came amid swirling media spec­u­la­tion about the con­tents of a con­fi­den­tial report into the Vatican’s leaks scan­dal.

Ital­ian news­pa­pers have been rife for days with unsourced reports about the con­tents of the secret dossier that three car­di­nals pre­pared for Bene­dict after inves­ti­gat­ing the ori­gins of the leaks. The scan­dal erupt­ed last year after papers tak­en from the pope’s desk were pub­lished in a block­buster book. The pope’s but­ler was con­victed in Octo­ber of aggra­vated theft, and lat­er par­doned.

The Vat­i­can has refused to com­ment on the reports, which have claimed the con­tents of the dossier, deliv­ered to Bene­dict in Decem­ber, were a fac­tor in his deci­sion to resign. Bene­dict him­self has said he sim­ply no longer has the “strength of mind and body” to car­ry on.

. . . Balestrero was head of the Holy See’s del­e­ga­tion to the Coun­cil of Europe’s Mon­ey­val com­mit­tee, which eval­u­ated the Vatican’s anti-mon­ey laun­der­ing and anti-ter­ror financ­ing mea­sures. He has had a hand in the efforts by the Vat­i­can bank to be more trans­par­ent and is close to Benedict’s No. 2, the Vat­i­can sec­re­tary of state Car­di­nal Tar­ci­sio Bertone.

The Vat­i­can sub­mit­ted itself to Moneyval’s eval­u­a­tion in a bid to improve its rep­u­ta­tion in the finan­cial world.

The Vat­i­can passed the test on the first try in August, and Mon­ey­val said it had made great progress in a short amount of time. But the Holy See received poor or fail­ing grades for its finan­cial watch­dog agency and its bank, long the source of some of the Vatican’s more sto­ried scan­dals.